The Fidlock Bottle Twist is essentially a breakaway system designed to overcome some of the limitations associated with traditional cages, and if you have a small compact-geometry frame there's a lot to like. It's not cheap, but it's well made using high quality materials.
Strong magnets are the key, and there are four in total: two concealed within the high quality composite frame mount and two within the bottle.
The mount uses medium length 3mm Allen screws – of serviceable rather than superior quality – and chances are you'll need something longer if you've a mini pump riding shotgun on the bosses. They do look very sleek, and the magnets show some serious power, greatly reducing the likelihood of dropping said fastener, or indeed the Allen key!
This is a clear 600ml food grade model, which is very robust and designed not to taint your chosen tipple or leach chemicals into your body over time. The size is convenient with smaller frames, and the chevrons running its circumference provide additional grip. Even when dog tired and in the wet, I've had no problems maintaining tenure.
The magnetic bracket is recessed within the bottle walls for a low profile and can be removed altogether should you need to replace the bottle or port it to a traditional cage.
I wouldn't expect the magnets to fail anytime soon, but as a precautionary measure I have tended to wash the bottle by hand rather than chance the dishwasher.
Practice makes perfect
The system is pretty intuitive: slip the bottle onto the mount sideways, twist and pull simultaneously to remove. It's worth having a few practice goes – I've been caught out on autopilot, pulling upwards and wondering why nothing was happening! Within a matter of rides, I'd got draws and refits gun-slinger quick – no need to glance down momentarily.
The twist and pull motion also prevents potentially painful encounters with the top tube and, for me at least, felt less exaggerated than Lezyne's likeable side-entry Flow.
Opening and closing the bottle's bite valve took a little extra force and it's still a fairly positive action several weeks in. And the good news is there's no risk of sticky energy drink dribbling all over your frame. I've even parked it upside-down in the bottom of a pannier, just to see whether it would leak – it hasn't.
On the bike, there's some very minor vibration when whizzing across rough tarmac or forest trails, but no worse than I've found with snug-fitting unions of composite cage and 750ml bottles.
So, should you buy one? Well, if you had a small compact geometry frame and wanted an uncluttered, user-friendly alternative to bottle cages, there's a lot to like. True, the lion's share of 30 quid isn't cheap, but then you're paying for decent engineering and high quality materials. A branded carbon composite cage commands similar money (this GT one, for example, or Elite's, and that's before you've bought a bottle.
By the same token, you can buy a set of decent left/right-specific cages (Lezyne's, for example) and two bottles for about the same money.
Endeared to the concept as I am, if it boiled down to a question of bang for buck, I'd probably go for one of the side-entry designs.
Neat alternative to the traditional bottle and cage for very small compact geometry framesets
road.cc test report
Make and model: Fidlock Bottle Twist
Size tested: 600ml
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Fidlock says: "The Bottle Twist combines a magnetic-mechanical mount with a bicycle water bottle.
"The bottle twist was espacially engineered to do away with conventional bottle cages, to take up a little space on the bike frame as possible. Thanks to its minimalistic design, the Bottle Twist can fit even the tighest bike frame and can be positioned on any part of the frame, from the crossbar to the saddle bar; which ever point is most conventient for the user.
"The mount is attached to the bike frame with the screws provided. The bottle just needs to be brought close to the mount and the magnetic attraction pulls the bottle in. The mechanical mechansim then secures the bottle."
My feelings: a competent alternative to traditional bottle and cages, and well suited to small compact-geometry frames in particular, but may not be the most cost-effective solution.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
"The patented fastener technology offers a number of advantages: it enables virtually automatic closing and allows the fasteners to be opened in a user-friendly manner with just one hand – even when wearing gloves. The fasteners are also highly reliable, robust and secure.
"This is made possible by the use of slidable neodymium magnets combined with stable mechanical locking. The result is an important feature of Fidlock fasteners: two different procedures are used to open and close the fastener.
"When the fastener is closed, the magnets move towards each other due to magnetic pull and, once they connect, the magnets are automatically securely locked together by the mechanical locking functionality. When the fastener is opened, the polarity of the magnets is reversed by sliding them apart, for example by turning the fastener. This means that the magnets repel each other, supporting the opening procedure."
Both components seem of high quality and extremely well executed.
Some people have queried the longevity of magnets, but I'm assured this variety will retain their power reliably for many years.
Not cheap, especially when compared with composite side-entry designs. However, materials are very high quality and should last. Similarly, this system could prove a godsend for riders of very small compact geometry frames struggling to fit two bottles in the main triangle.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Overall, I've been pleasantly surprised by the Fidlock system. The magnetic connection takes a few practice runs before becoming second nature but is every bit as secure as traditional bottles/cages. The ability to port the hardware to replacement bottles means the system also has longevity on its side. Looks very neat too.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Pretty much everything, given the design brief.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nothing per se, although many riders of smaller semi/compact frames may find left/right-specific side-entry cages an inexpensive solution to the problem of getting two bottles in the main triangle.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Definitely worth a look.
Use this box to explain your score
Well engineered, high quality alternative to the traditional bottle and cage setup. Could be a godsend for riders of very small frames but pricey compared with more conventional alternatives.
About the tester
I usually ride: Rough stuff tourer based around 4130 Univega mountain bike frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)